Landowners across England will be playing their part in reducing the long-term impact of ash dieback this winter as they plant thousands of native trees provided by the Woodland Trust in a new pilot aimed to help safeguard the future of the countryside.
Over 5,000 trees will be planted across East Anglia, Kent, East Sussex and Northumberland as 59 landowners receive a total of 114 ‘Tree Disease Recovery Packs’ supplied by the conservation charity. The packs, launched in the summer, have been specifically tailored to be planted in landscapes where many ash trees are already affected and likely to be lost in years to come, in particular outside of woods in hedgerows, verges, along field edges, corners and watersides in the wider landscape.
The new tree packs contain 45 trees from a mix of five native species (beech, oak, wild cherry, hornbeam, birch) and come with tailored advice on planting, which will differ according to the type and condition of the landscape being planted into.
One landowner planting this winter is Marie Walker from Mattishall in Norfolk: “We have one boundary hedge which, in particular, has several mature ash trees in it. We decided that we’d like to plant a new hedge three metres into the field in order to create a wildlife corridor which in time would ensure the continuation of a mature tree line around our property should the ash die.
“There are plenty of hedges locally but there is a notable absence of woods, in fact Norfolk as a whole is very sparsely wooded. The English countryside will change forever if people do not plant a continuous supply of large native tree species and ash dieback brings this truth more immediately to our door. The Woodland Trust is doing a great job at leading a preventative strike.”
Austin Brady, Woodland Trust director of conservation, added: “The response we’ve had from landowners to our pilot is encouraging and shows the passion to look after our countryside in the face of ash dieback. Although we won’t lose all our ash trees immediately, we do expect many thousands to die across the countryside.
“We need to continue planting now, not only to protect the beauty of our landscapes but to provide the crucial habitat for wildlife that will be lost. We also need to help secure the wider benefits our countryside trees deliver: providing shade and shelter, helping to reduce runoff and erosion, and supporting pollinators. We need to act now, so I’d urge people to apply for our next delivery of packs in spring 2016.”
The trees will be supplied as part of a £4.5m investment in native tree stock by the Trust, which ensures all the trees the charity provides are grown in the UK from fully traceable seed stock sourced throughout the UK and Ireland.
Schools and communities can also continue to apply for free tree packs to plant in publicly accessible spaces to help increase tree cover and improve wildlife habitats. The Trust also offers support for landowners who wish to plant trees on a larger scale through its MOREwoods scheme.
For further information visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/treedisease